Many parents are told by health professionals that their child will ‘grow out’ of what research has shown are early signs of autism. Olga Tennison’s Autism Research Centre’s Dr Kristelle Hudry says this ‘wait and see’ approach misses a vital opportunity for maximising a child’s developmental outcomes by starting very early intervention. Read more “Living with Autism Podcasts: Prevention as Intervention with Dr Kristelle Hudry”
Treatment for children with autism can be intensive and isolating. A different approach in early intervention in child care has been introduced to create a more interactive and cost-effective environment for both children with autism and their families.
Among the many available therapies and early interventions for children with autism, only a few are backed up with solid scientific evidence. But here’s some good news: recently, the quality of autism early intervention research has improved significantly.
By Katherine Crea, Psychologist, OTARC Alumni
During my previous employment at the Australian Psychological Society on the early childhood mental health promotion, prevention, and early intervention initiative, KidsMatter Early Childhood, I developed a keen interest in the well-being of children under school age. I discovered that even during toddlerhood, some children begin to show signs of emotional and behavioral difficulties, including “acting out” difficulties such as aggression, and “holding in” difficulties such as excessive worry and anxiety. Whilst some children “grow out of” these difficulties, around 1 in 2 children do not seem to improve without intervention, and continue to show signs of difficulties when followed up in later years.
Dr Giacomo Vivanti & Professor Cheryl Dissanayake
Research underway for many years at La Trobe University has been supporting the very early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders in infancy and toddlerhood with the view of promoting optimal development by access to early intervention. Recent research by Sally Rogers and her colleagues of the MIND Institute, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders this week describes the first controlled study documenting outcomes of infants with signs of autism who received treatment in their first year of life, well before the age at which autism is usually diagnosed.
By Dr Josephine Barbaro, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at OTARC and ASD Specialist in Australia’s first Early Assessment Clinic for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Since beginning research on the early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders back in 2005 as part of my PhD program, the Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS), I was often asked “What’s the point of identifying children at 2 years of age or younger if there are very few or no services for them?” You see, back in 2005, there wasn’t the Helping Children with Autism Package for families of children on the spectrum (aged 0 – 7), or intervention programs like the Early Start Denver Model – the first intervention model with strong empirical evidence for its effectiveness in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with ASDs. So, at this time, many families had to wait on long waiting lists for early intervention services, as long as 18 months in some cases, to receive a few hours a week of services! It was therefore difficult to convince some people, both in the public and private sectors, of the importance of early detection and subsequent intervention.
When a newborn joins a family we become beguiled by the perfection of this wondrous new being. Any hint of difference is easily overlooked during the early years.